Cooper River Bridge Run (copy)

Participants make their way down Meeting Street to the finish line during the 41st annual Cooper River Bridge Run in 2018. Benefitfocus has agreed to be one of the event's top sponsors for the next three years. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

With about two weeks to spare before the start of the 2019 race, Cooper River Bridge organizers have lined up one of Charleston's top software businesses as their newest top-tier financial backer.

Daniel Island-based Benefitfocus Inc. was announced Wednesday as a "co-presenting" sponsor for the annual 6.2-mile dash to be held April 6. The technology firm joins the supermarket chain Harris Teeter in that role.

It's the first year will be Benefitfocus will provide this level of support for the event, which is in its 42nd year and now draws about 40,000 participants for a mid-morning run or walk across the Ravenel Bridge each spring, from Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston.

The agreement is for three years. 

The bridge run didn't disclose financial details about the company's commitment, but many of the smaller sponsorships require donations of tens of thousands of dollars apiece. 

Benefitfocus spokesman Drake Manning said the software maker sees sponsorships as a way to elevate its profile in Charleston and the other cities where it has offices.

"We as an organization have re-engaged in a significant way in all of the communities in which we operate," Manning said Wednesday. "We want to certainly be more visible in the community both with our support of the organizations, but also as a community steward."

Benefitfocus also has moved its annual customer summit back to Charleston after several years in Orlando, Fla. Its "One Place" conference is expected to bring at least 700 out-of-town visitors to the peninsula next week. It will be held at the Charleston Gaillard Center, not far from the bridge run finish line.

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.


Among Benefitfocus' other local sponsorships for this year are the tech-focused iFiveK run at North Charleston's Riverfront Park on April 4 and the TEDx Charleston forum taking place April 10 at the Charleston Music Hall. 

The Cooper River Bridge Run said it is pleased to have Benefitfocus "support our health and wellness initiatives for race participants and folks across the Lowcountry," according to a statement from Mike Seekings, race director.

The company, which was founded in 2001 and went public in 2013, sells cloud-based software that workers use to enroll in and manage their health insurance plans and other benefits. It has about 1,450 employees with offices in the South Carolina Upstate, New York, Oklahoma and Utah.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated when Benefitfocus was founded. The company was founded in 2001. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.